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Immigration Document Request

This page will help you understand the process to request a Form I-20 or DS-2019 


  1. In order to gain access to the OISS Portal  to request an immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019), admitted international students must confirm their planned attendance at Northwestern by paying the NU tuition  deposit (if required by your academic program).
  2. Set up your Northwestern email account and check that email regularly.
  3. Await email notification of access to the OISS PortalAdmitted students will be granted access to the OISS portal once the Northwestern Student Information System (CAESAR) transmits essential profile information over to the OISS. Your OISS profile includes biographic information, academic level, academic program to which you have been admitted, program dates, program costs, and other essential information. Please be patient as it generally takes at least two weeks from date of admission and receipt of tuition deposit for the systems to sync so that we may grant students access to the portal. This 2 week timeline assumes we have commenced the access cycle for your term of admission (see chart below).
    Please note: We will begin granting access to the OISS Portal for eligible admitted students based on term of admission as follows:
    Fall term students March 1
    Winter term students July 15
    Spring term students July 15
    Summer term students December 15
  4. IMPORTANT: Please do not attempt to log in to the OISS Portal until after you have received the notification email. You will not have access to the OISS Portal until you receive the notification email. If you attempt to log in to the portal before CAESAR communicates with the OISS Portal and access is granted, you will receive an error message.
  5. The link included in the  notification email will take you to the OISS Portal where you will now be able to log in with your Northwestern NetID and password. After logging in you will complete the questionnaires and upload required documentation to complete your Form I-20 or DS-2019  request.
  6. There are two types of immigration documents you can request:
    Form I-20 to apply for an F-1 student visa
    Form DS-2019 to apply for a J-1 student visa
    Note: It is possible to choose only 1 visa type. Please review Types of Student Visas to learn about the difference between an F-1 and J-1 visa.
  7. When students are added to the  OISS portal, they are assigned a default visa type :   
  • Degree-seeking students: Any student participating in a degree-seeking program will be invited to the OISS portal as an F-1 student by default. Within the immigration document request, degree-seeking students are able to select their preferred visa type (F or J).  
  • Non-degree/Exchange students will gain access to portal with their visa type pre-selected as J-1, the required visa for non-degree and exchange students.

Please note:

The notification email is sent to an admitted student’s Northwestern email address. Therefore, it is essential that newly admitted international students have set up their NU email address and are checking it regularly. Typically, students activate their G-suite account for email as part of the NetID activation process. NU, including OISS, will use your Northwestern email address for ALL official communications. For more information, see Overview on the IT website.

Required Documents

You will be required to provide the following documentation as part of your immigration document request:

  1. Passport (biographical page only)
  2. Northwestern admission or invitation letter
    Admitted students will receive an official admission letter from the academic department or school that is either emailed or sent in the mail in hardcopy. Exchange programs typically issue an invitation letter.
  3. Financial documentation 

Transfer Students

Students transferring to Northwestern from another school in the United States will need to arrange to transfer their SEVIS record from the other school to Northwestern.

Transfer a SEVIS Record to NU for more information. 

Bringing Dependents

You may bring your dependents (spouse/ children) when you arrive or later. If your dependents will be traveling with you, they will need a dependent Form I-20 or DS 2019 to apply for an F-2 or J-2 visa. You can request your dependent immigration documents at the same time as yours.

You will need to provide additional financial documentation for dependents. Additional finances are required. Please see Visas for Spouses and Children for additional information and required financial documentation.

Visa Appointment Scheduling

You will be able to schedule your appointment up to 365 days prior to the program start date listed on your Form I-20 or DS-2019.

I-20 or DS-2019 Errors

Be sure to review Understanding your Immigration Document as it explains specific details about the I-20/ DS-2019 components. 

If you find an error on your immigration document, contact the OISS immediately at

School Specific Contacts


Please allow 2 weeks after you have paid your NU admission deposit to receive the OISS email inviting you to apply for your immigration document. If you have not received the invitation email 2 weeks or more after paying your NU admission deposit, please send an email to Please include your full name, NetID, and term of admission.